From Kelly Ripa vs. Michael Strahan to 'Criminal Minds': The 11 Biggest TV Stories of 2016

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Photo: NBC/CBS/Getty
2016 has been quite an eventful year in television.
From shocking firings and abrupt morning show departures to the rise of true-crime and president-elect Donald Trump, the past 12 months have featured a myriad of major TV headlines.
As 2017 approaches, ET relives 11 of the biggest stories on the small screen.
1. Thomas Gibson’s Criminal Minds Firing

The longtime star, who played Aaron Hotchner since the series’ 2005 debut, was fired after allegedly kicking a writer on the set of the CBS procedural, prompting the writers to scramble for an appropriate resolution to his character’s abrupt exit. Ultimately, the show opted not to kill Hotchner, leaving the door open for a possible return in the future.

RELATED: How 'Criminal Minds' Handled Thomas Gibson's Final Episode

2. The Year of Trump TV
You couldn’t turn away from the TV without seeing or hearing mention of Donald Trump. Whether it be through the presidential debates, the fallout from the secret Billy Bush recording or Megyn Kelly’s challenge of his inflammatory remarks on women, the president-elect was everywhere. (He even launched his own Internet channel, Trump TV!)
3. Michael Strahan’s Surprising Live! Exit

The former NFL star announced his unexpected and surprising departure from Live! With Kelly and Michael in April for a full-time gig at Good Morning America after four years co-hosting with Kelly Ripa. During his final episode in May, Strahan admitted the farewell was “a moment I didn’t anticipate … at this point." “But it is here, and we are going to enjoy it," he said at the time.

RELATED: 'Live!' Removes Michael Strahan's Name From Signage Ahead of Final Show

4. Ryan Lochte Protesters Storm DWTS Stage
In September, the 32-year-old Olympian received more than he bargained for on Dancing With the Stars, when two protesters stormed the stage while he and Cheryl Burke were receiving their judges’ critique. At the time, Lochte was coming off a scandal-filled summer after he admitted he “over-exaggerated” claims that he was robbed at gunpoint at the Rio Olympics and took “full responsibility.”
5. Alec Baldwin’s Trump Impressions on SNL

Baldwin made a statement with his Donald Trump impersonations on Saturday Night Live, lampooning the 70-year-old president-elect over the course of the season for various reasons. From lambasting Trump’s penchant for retweeting random teenagers to parodying his busy post-election schedule, Baldwin’s performance prompted Trump, who last hosted SNL in 2015, to react: “Just tried watching Saturday Night Live - unwatchable! Totally biased, not funny and the Baldwin impersonation just can't get any worse. Sad.”

RELATED: Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon Break Character on 'SNL' for Inspiring Message

6. The Rise of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke
Though the Late Late Show host’s viral sensation technically didn’t launch this year (March 2015, if you were curious), 2016 marked the rise of the unbelievably successful franchise. Just look at all the stars he’s been able to score: Adele! Britney Spears! Bruno Mars! Chris Martin! Jennifer Lopez! Stevie Wonder! Not to mention, it’s becoming its own show via Apple Music.
7. Beyonce Takes Over

Is 2016 the Year of Bey? It might as well have been! The GRAMMY winner -- and all-around flawless beauty -- made the rounds and left a mark everywhere she went. She kicked off the year by stealing the Super Bowl limelight from Coldplay (sorry, Chris Martin!) and followed it up with the stunning Lemonade visual film on HBO, a pulse-pounding performance at the MTV Video Music Awards and lighting the stage on fire at the BET Awards with Kendrick Lamar. We could go on and on…

RELATED: Beyonce's 17 Biggest Moments of 2016

8. This Is Us Captures Everyone’s Hearts
NBC’s heartwarming family drama became the breakout hit of the fall TV season -- and with good reason. With a stunning ensemble cast and gut-wrenching storylines to boot, viewers flocked to the drama every week, desperate to follow the Pearson family’s every move. If you didn’t become a blubbering mess after it was revealed that TV dad of the year, Jack Pearson, was dead, that’s ice cold!
9. You Get a Revival, and You Get a Revival!

The year was ripe with TV shows featuring familiar characters or with a nostalgic bent. There was the breakthrough hit Stranger Things (what’s up, Eleven?), the anticipated Gilmore Girls revival, Full House sequel series Fuller House and many others, including Lethal Weapon, MacGyver, Frequency and the news that a brand new Star Trek series, Discovery, is coming. Will 2017 continue the trend?

RELATED: Behind the Scenes With 'Fuller House' Stars as Dave Coulier Makes His Directorial Debut

10. Michael Phelps and Women’s Gymnastics Shine in Rio
For a two-week span in August, the Rio Olympics were all anyone could talk about and it was Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 medals, and the women’s gymnastics team that dominated. Miss Phelps’ final race? Forget to tune in to Simone Biles and future DWTS champ Laurie Hernandez score big? Good luck holding a conversation.
11. Resurgence of the True-Crime Obsession
Last year’s Making a Murderer kick-started the trend. This year, prime focus was paid to the 20-year anniversary of the unsolved JonBenet Ramsey murder, as well as the O.J. Simpson murder case, which was the subject of FX’s award-winning drama series, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, and ESPN docu-series, O.J.: Made in America.